The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Edo office, on Wednesday, began a three-day training for all security agencies that would participate in the Sept. 19, election in the state.
Dr Jonathan Alalibo, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in Edo, who welcomed the participants to Benin, said the training had brought together all array of security agencies toward containing any breaches that could affect the election.
Alalibo said: “It is a well known fact that Edo governorship election is scheduled to hold on Sept. 19.
“As we are aware, political campaigns have started and already the state is beginning to notice some sort of skirmishes that are quite antithetical to the core values of free, fair and credible elections.
“Therefore, this training of security agencies is auspicious as it will expose the trainees to some fundamental issues bordering on securing the process and providing a secured environment for voters to exercise their franchise.
“Let me reiterate the fact that the conduct of the Edo governorship election is of serious concern to the commission.
“The commission will provide a veritable opportunity to build on the incremental gains on the conduct of the security agencies since the 2019 general elections,” he said.
Alalibo thanked the commission for putting together the training which he hoped would sensitise the security agencies to their core mandate of providing a secured environment.
According to him, the training programme which begins on Aug. 5, will end on Aug. 7.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the Electoral Institute, Sa’ad Idris, said the conduct of election was a collective venture that involved not just the electoral management body but also security agencies and other stakeholders.
Idris said it was of utmost importance to note that this was one of the major trainings the commission was conducting since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
“You are therefore enjoined to follow the framework for the conduct of elections during COVID-19 pandemic issued by the commission,” he said.
Chairman, Board of the Electoral Institute, Solomon Soyebi, noted that the 2019 general elections were adjudged to be relatively peaceful.
“Principally arising from the use of cascaded security training employed at these elections in terms of the professional conduct of security personnel on election duty,” he said.
According to him, this strategy to continuously engage with stakeholders such as security agencies is geared toward ensuring safe electoral environment for citizens to participate in governance without hindrance.
Soyebi noted that the training would further help to deepen democratic process and help the commission achieve its mandate of delivering free, fair and credible elections.
The Commissioner of Police in Edo, Mr Johnson Kokumo, who was represented by ACP Godiri Agabi, advised the security agencies to be apolitical.
Kokumo said it was pertinent that the security agencies protected their jobs, not allow themselves to be bought by politicians and stuck to their functions and roles.
The police commissioner also disclosed that there would be a functional patrol team bearing long arms during the election.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)https://nnn.ng/edo-election-inec-begins-3-days-training-for-security-agencies/
NCC set to commence cost-based review of new rates for International voice calls services
Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, made this known in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that ITR is the rate paid to local operators by international operators to terminate calls in Nigeria.
Adinde said that as part of the process for the rate determination, the Commission has organised a virtual stakeholders’ engagement forum with relevant industry stakeholders.
He said that the meeting was to intimate them about the ongoing cost-based study and the need to cooperate with Messrs Payday Advance and Support Services Limited, the consultants engaged to carry out the study.
Addressing the stakeholders, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the study had become imperative following the various implementation constraints arising from contending industry and market dynamics that met previous efforts at finding an optimum price for the termination of international voice services in Nigeria.
Danbatta, said through the new ITR pricing, the Commission would be able to balance the competing objectives of economic efficiency and allowing operators the latitude to generate reasonable revenue.
He, however, explained that in 2013, the Commission issued a determination stating that Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) were the same irrespective of where the call originated from, adding that it was largely misconstrued by operators at that time that ITR should be the same rate as the MTR.
He said this led to operators ignoring the international cost portion, where ITRs were agreed at MTR level without a positive residual to cover the costs of the international leg for local operators.
“As a result of this, the ITRs continued to decline, in line with the MTR glide path and as the ITR was set in naira, it suffered a further downward slide in dollar terms following the currency devaluation.
“Ironically, the Nigerian operators paid the international operators in dollars to deliver international calls which created an imbalance of payments as the ITR in Nigeria declined,” he said.
Danbatta said Nigerian operators’ profitability and commercial results were negatively affected putting Nigeria’s ITR below that of most countries with which it made and received the most calls, thereby making Nigerian operators perpetual net payers.
“According to him, this has, therefore, led to undue pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves, which continued to get depleted by associated net transfers to foreign operators on account of this lop-sidedness.
“Hence the need for Nigeria, with volatile a currency to regulate the ITR to prevent or mitigate the imbalance of payments with international operators.
“Where ITR is not properly regulated, it tends to have negative effect on a market like Nigeria with major supply side challenges and associated socio-economic implications. So, setting a rate substantially above the MTR has resulted in a number of repercussions.
“One of such is the consumer shift to online channels as calls are increasingly made through Internet Protocol (IP)-based technologies such as Skype and WhatsApp because of high international call prices.
“To this end, an economically-efficient ITR that is cost-based will maximise economic benefits to all stakeholders,” he said.
Earlier in her remarks,NCC Director, Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis, Mrs Yetunde Akinloye, said the forum was aimed at formally engaging with and sharing the perspectives and insights of industry stakeholders.
Akinloye said that it was also for ultimately enlisting their collective support in relation to the inputs and requirements towards the determination of a mutually- realistic ITR in Nigeria.
She noted that the project commenced on March 10, with a kick-off meeting but was stalled by the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, necessitating the need to explore emerging channels of engagement to move forward and ensure the completion of the project.
Akinloye reiterated the Commission’s commitment to continuously provide a conducive environment and level-playing field for the effective interplay of factors that would sustain market development and growth.
“This is addition to ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications regulatory services for the benefit of consumers and licensees,” she said.
Edited By: Ali Baba-Inuwa
Osinbajo Engages APC Social Media Influencers on hate speech
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government is ready to support youths to influence the passage of the hate speech bill presently before the National Assembly.
Osinbajo gave the assurance on Monday in Abuja while engaging the All Progressives Congress (APC) social media operators and influencers at a virtual meeting held at the party’s national secretariat.
The Vice President also assured that the government would not relent in expanding and sustaining youth friendly projects, including media platforms that would add value to the society.
Also speaking at the virtual meeting, Alhaji Ahmed Ismaeel, National Youth Leader of the APC, described the meeting as the first of its kind and very engaging, adding that the party would continue to organise such meetings from time to time.
He said the meeting was organised to particularly recognise the party’s online soldiers and media influencers, who had over the years, helped to shape public opinion on it.
Speaking on the party’s defeat at the just concluded Edo governorship election, Ismaeel said the party would do a postmoterm on the outcome of the election to know why it lost.
“We thought we had covered the grounds very well, but there was a blind side we didn’t see, the party intends to do a postmoterm on the election this week.
“We will conduct a postmoterm this week, to know how far and how we found ourselves in this kind of situation,” he said.
Ismaeel, who is also a member of the APC Caretaker and Reconciliation Committee, added that knowing that the party did not win the last presidential election in Ondo state, would make the election to be dicey.
He added that the state governor had, however, done what he needed to do in terms of reconciling aggrived party members, there was more to be done.
Ismaeel stressed that the party would not take anything for granted again, but would rather go out and fight to ensure that it retained Ondo State.
He said it was disheartening to note that for the first time since 2015, the APC doesn’t have a representative in the South South geopolitical zone again, adding that this was worrisome.
Ismaeel said while the party may have lost Edo state governorship election, it had to work hard, especially to ensure that it won the forthcoming Ondo State governorship election slated for October 10.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that about 100 APC media influencers participated at the event.
Nigeria like other developing nations have varieties of media technology through which information gets to the people.
Apart from the conventional media like Television, Radio and Newspapers, Digital media services such as email, social media sites, websites are among others playing the role of information dissemination.
The interface with the APC media influencers and its leadership was an opportunity to review performances and renew commitment, according to its organisers.
Edited By: Benson Iziama/Felix Ajide
NCDC, NIMR, partners to conduct COVID-19 antibody tests in 4 states
Abuja, Sept. 21, The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and their partners are conducting anti-bodies household surveys in four states in Nigeria.
Speaking at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on Monday in Abuja, the Director general of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said the tests are being conducted to better understand the burden of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria.
“These seroprevalence surveys, which will be carried out in Gombe, Enugu, Nasarawa and Lagos states would provide the best evidence yet, on the extent of COVID-19 infection in the country.
“The seroprevalence surveys are used to identify the occurrence of disease in a population by estimating the presence of antibodies in individuals who have had the disease.
“This is done by testing blood samples in randomly selected households in selected states.
“In addition to this, study participants will also have a rapid malaria test and receive treatment if the test is positive,” he said.
Ihekweazu, said, this is the first set of household surveys to be conducted for COVID-19 in Nigeria and as part of ongoing public health research activities.
“The surveys will increase the current understanding of COVID-19 transmission patterns, the burden of infection in the population, and the age groups most affected.
“This information will help inform COVID-19 response decisions by the Government of Nigeria and partners as part of measures towards ending the pandemic.
” The surveys will also estimate the proportion of people who have COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms, that is asymptomatic.
“Through this, the country can identify risk factors for infection and measure the transmission of COVID-19 within households,” he explained.
By administering rapid malaria tests, he said, the surveys will also assess malaria infections and their possible relationship to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The results from the surveys, he added, will inform the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria.
He also stated that the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and the University College London (supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) are supporting the NCDC and NIMR in implementing these surveys.
The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that the surveys will be conducted between September and November, and preliminary results are expected to be released by December 2020.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza https://nnn.ng/ncdc-nimr-partners-to-conduct-covid-19-antibody-tests-in-4-states/
COVID-19: PTF warns against neglect of protocols
He said that there were increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven to be very successful.
He said face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era.
Mustapha, however, called for vigilance in order to forestall any danger of second wave of the pandemic as the countries in Europe were currently facing.
According to him, the call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through our home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
” Also, our health systems, in spite of its fragility, have been able to withstand and contain cases resulting from COVID-19 infection, where those of more advanced countries have been overwhelmed.
“This call is made more pertinent in view of the noticeably increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven very successful.
“Face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era,” he said.
Speaking on the second wave of the virus across the world, the PTF chairman said, “Israel has re-introduced a three-week lockdown, the United Kingdom was considering another lockdown phase, Spain was enforcing a partial lockdown in Madrid and France – amidst protests by its citizens.
“They have also introduced stricter measures to contain the virus. Similar stories are coming from South Korea, Iran and the number of fatalities is approaching 200,000 in the USA.
“The World Health Organisation(WHO), has advised that everybody should learn from lessons of the first wave, especially as ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’.
“Let me share with you a global picture to buttress the foregoing. Over the last three days, the global cases passed the 31 million mark and it took only four days to get there from the 30th million.
“The USA crossed 7 million cases and continues to report a high daily caseload of over 30, 000 daily. We continue to see highest daily numbers from India.
“More specifically, the lesson for us in Nigeria, is that in spite of appreciable progress recorded, we should be vigilant more than ever before, because we have opened our air spaces to international travels, we have relaxed a number of restrictions in opening up more sectors of the economy and schools are beginning to open in varying degrees.”
On the reopening of airports for international travels, Mustapha noted that the PTF would continue to work with partners from the private sector to fine tune the protocols for international travellers, especially those arriving in Nigeria.
He, however, urged all travellers to ensure that they complete all pre-boarding and post-arrival processes, especially on the portal to facilitate seamless arrivals at the airports.
“We cannot afford the importation of the virus.
“We appeal strongly to all Nigerians to persuade their relations arriving Nigeria to self-isolate upon arrival, as required and test on day seven as prescribed,”
Edited By: Felix Ajide